Has your fridge been staying as cool as you want it to? If your fridge is not cold enough, there could be some serious problems or just a stuck thermostat. 

Fixing a fridge that is not cold enough saves you money, keeps food from going bad, and makes sure you’re never without a refreshing beverage. The fixes in this guide will get your fridge back to a cool temperature in no time. 

There are a few reasons why your refrigerator can be less cold than you need it. These could be easy fixes including an over-packed fridge, a door that won’t close, or a thermostat with the wrong setting. It can also be caused by bigger problems like a broken air damper or a defective fridge exhaust. 

Are you ready to make sure your fridge keeps its cool? Let’s get started with some easy fixes. 

What You’ll Need to Keep Your Fridge Cool

The good news is that most of the time you won’t even need any tools to cool down your fridge. The common fixes for cooling down a fridge won’t even need tools. The fixes that do need tools only need a handful of common household tools. 

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Philip’s screwdriver
  • Bubble level
  • Blow dryer (trust us)
  • Spare parts for different repairs 

Really, that’s it! Getting your fridge back to a nice, cool temperature is as easy as spinning a dial. 

Step By Step Instructions

Let’s go over how you can cool down your fridge starting with the easiest fixes first. 

#1 Start With Some Easy Fixes

The first thing you want to check is that your fridge is still plugged in. We know, this might seem a little basic, but you’d be surprised how often a plug comes loose and a fridge unexpectedly cools down.

After that, you’re going to want to check and see if your fridge has power. Does the interior light come on? Can you hear the hum of the fridge’s motor? If any of these signs are missing, you could be experiencing electrical problems in your home.

#2 Check Your Thermostat

Have you ever checked the thermostat in your fridge? It’s surprising how few people know that you can change the temperature of your fridge with that little dial inside.

Most of the time you’ll never need to move the thermostat inside your fridge. However, this doesn’t mean that that dial can’t move on its own. The dial inside the fridge can be moved when you bump it with groceries or due to a bad buildup of frost.

You should check your thermostat to make sure it wasn’t accidentally set to a warmer temperature. This leads us to one of the most common questions people asked about their fridge: Is 1 or 5 colder?

#3 What’s Colder: 1 or 5?

This is where things can get a little confusing. If you thought your fridge was getting warm and you set your dial to 1, you’ve actually just pumped up the temperature in your fridge.

In the rest of our lives, lower numbers mean colder weather. After all, 1° is colder than 5°. However, with fridges things are a little backwards. 

The settings on the dial inside of your fridge actually represent the power of the refrigerant that’s being used. This means that the higher the number, the colder your fridge will get. So if your dial reads 1 to 5, this means that 5 is going to be the coldest and 1 is going to be the warmest.

A refrigerator thermostat knob
Here’s how the thermostat knob works, the higher the number, the colder the refrigerator gets

Try setting your fridge somewhere in the middle to get a feeling of how cold your fridge can get. 

#4 Is Your Fridge Level?

Your fridge needs to sit level in order to work properly. If your fridge is tilted at an angle, it can have trouble staying cool.

This comes down to how our fridge Works. Your fridge is pumping coolant you’re both the freezer and the fridge compartment. If your fridge is not sitting level, it’s going to cause the coolant to pull up and struggle to reach every corner of the fridge.

 Here’s a step-by-step guide on leveling off your fridge:

  1. Place your bubble level on top of your fridge to see where you need to make changes
  2. Remove the front grille cover on the bottom of the fridge 
  3. Follow your manufacturer’s instructions for adjusting the level of the fridge’s feat. This usually involves turning them with a flathead screwdriver 
  4. Remove the back grille and adjust the legs there as needed
  5. Check your bubble regularly to make sure you’re on track to level your fridge 

#5 Check Your Fridge Exhaust

Your refrigerator needs to circulate air just as much as it needs to circulate coolant. If you’ve ever felt hot air coming from the back or bottom of your fridge, that’s actually the exhaust leaving the cooling system.

Don’t worry, this isn’t like your car’s exhaust. This is just hot air being blown away in order to keep your fridge cool. However, if your fridge’s exhaust is clogged, you can accidentally start to heat up the contents of your fridge.

Here’s how you can check and unclog your fridge’s exhaust:

  1. Unplug your fridge to ensure that you’ll be safe from accidental electric shocked while working on your fridge exhaust
  2. Locate your fridge’s air vents. There should be a few inside the main compartment as well as the freezer
  3. There is also an air exhaust vent on the bottom or back of your fridge
  4. Make sure that food isn’t blocking these vents
  5. Clean out the vents using a vacuum
  6. Remove the vent cover using a screwdriver and give it a wash in warm, soapy water 
  7. Replace your vent covers 

#6 Consider the Temperature Outside of the Fridge

If the weather outside is getting hot and muggy, and your home’s air conditioning can’t keep up, your refrigerator can be next in line for overheating.

The best thing you can do to keep your fridge cool is to open the door less. This will let in less hot air and prevent the fridge from having to do unnecessary work to stay cool. You should also limit the amount of room temperature items you add to the fridge at once. Add a few of those beverage cans at a time rather than a whole 24 pack at once.

If your fridge still can’t keep up with the hot weather, you can try moving it away from the wall. Adding plenty of air space around your fridge gives it more circulation and helps it cool down faster.

#7 What’s in Your Fridge?

If you add too many room temperature or hot items to your fridge at once, you can spike the temperature inside of the fridge. This can be potentially dangerous as this will cause everything in your fridge to warm up which could cause food to spoil.

You can get around this by adding items to your fridge slowly. Throwing in leftovers right after you’re done eating won’t cause this kind of temperature change, but adding a lifetime’s supply for frozen pizzas at once just might.

Overloading your fridge can also block the air vents that need to stay free in order to keep the fridge circulating.

A refrigerator packed with food
Avoid overloading your fridge because it can block the vent and can make the fridge warm

You should also avoid adding too much to your fridge’s door. The doors of the fridge and freezer are the areas that heat up the fastest. Make sure the weight on both doors stays low and you don’t have easily perishable items close to the doors. 

#8 How Old is Your Fridge? 

If your fridge is getting up there in the years, it could be experiencing more difficulty keeping things cool.

The good news here is that this typically can be fixed by replacing either the door seals, the air damper, or another component of your fridge. Rather than buying a whole new fridge, you can do more affordable and quicker repairs to keep things cool. 

#9 Check Your Door Seal

The door seal is the number one culprit for a fridge that can’t stay cold. You can change this out easily at home and you might not even need any tools. 

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Start removing the old door gasket in one corner
  2. You might need a screwdriver to “pop” the corner out of the bracket 
  3. Slowly peel the old gasket out of the door
  4. Clean the fridge door and let it dry
  5. Insert the new gasket starting in one corner and working your way around
  6. Press firmly into the door to snap the new gasket in place 
  7. If the new gasket is bent out of shape from its packaging, you can use a blow dryer to gently heat it up. This will get it back to its original shape 

How Cold Should Your Fridge Be?

Keeping your fridge cool is a great goal to have, but what temperature should you be looking for?

According to the FDA, your fridge should be kept at 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius) in order to keep your food safe

You should keep your fridge at or below 40 degrees in order to keep it out of the danger zone. The USDA outlines this danger zone as anywhere between 40 degrees to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. These are the temperatures at which bacteria can thrive in your food. It can take just as little as 2 hours in the danger zone for food to spoil.

So, keeping your fridge cool is just as much about having refreshing beverages on a hot day as it is keeping your food safe. 

Takeaways for an Even Colder Fridge 

A fridge that can’t keep its cool is more than just an inconvenience; it can also lead to food spoilage and the spread of bacteria.

You can follow the steps in this guide to make sure that your fridge keeps its cool and even the toughest conditions.